Monday, April 08, 2002

BONFIRE OF THE GUCCIONES: The Daze Reader points out that the New York Times has a story on the financial woes of Penthouse story. Bob Guccione is trying to blame it on Internet porn --hey, just like my local news stations do in child abduction stories-- for the failure of Penthouse, but as the story makes clear Guccione's failure has to do with him trying to do too much:

For three decades, the effusively decorated house served as a headquarters for Mr. Guccione's far-flung interests. Neither satisfied by nor ashamed of his status as a pornographer, Mr. Guccione sought to wriggle out of the pigeonhole and overreached in the process. His efforts at more general interest magazines — Omni and Longevity — failed. He spent millions on an unsuccessful attempt to develop small nuclear fusion reactors, financing a team led by Robert W. Bussard, a nuclear scientist.

"Those kind of mistakes can be devastating," said Larry Flynt, publisher of Hustler. "The secret to my success is that I stayed away from what I didn't know."

Mr. Guccione's gamble on Atlantic City was probably his costliest. In 1978, he announced plans for a $200 million casino at a site on the Boardwalk. He never received a gambling license, and the four-story steel structure sat rusting for 10 years while an elderly homeowner, Vera Coking, held out and stymied him. Mr. Guccione switched his efforts to a joint venture with Ramada Inn to develop a $140 million luxury club near the entrance to the city. That fizzled, as well, and he sold both parcels, with the proceeds being used to pay down a $28 million loan from Kennedy Funding of Hackensack, N.J. Calls to Kennedy Funding were not returned.

"Larry Flynt is right!" --your Simpsons quote of the day. (From the Stephen Hawking episode.) The other big porno mags (Playboy, Club, and Hustler) don't seem to be in any danger of going under --Flynt opened a lame-sounding Hustler strip club in San Francisco recently, in fact (again via Daze.) Though Flynt apparently isn't taking much risk with that:

The thing is, Flynt has almost nothing to do with the Hustler Club. He merely sells his name, and that of Hustler, for a small portion of the proceeds. Another company, SAW Productions, owns and operates the club, along with the infamous Condor Club nearby, said Lt. Bruce Lorin, the San Francisco police officer who deals with city permits for such clubs.

In other words, it's just another North Beach strip club.

The NY Times article offers one more explanation for the fall of Penthouse: the 1997 decision to go hardcore:

"In the end, the decision to go hard-core is part of what brought Penthouse down," said Dian Hanson, a former editor of Leg Show, an adult magazine, who is now working on a two-volume history of the men's magazine industry. "Penthouse had a name and a reputation, but when people looked inside, they were shocked at what it had become. Once they went hard-core, they lost a lot of their placement at newsstands. Men's magazines are an impulse buy. It takes a lot more determination to drive to a windowless cinder block building out on the highway than picking up a magazine while you are out buying some milk for your family."

One more Daze item: a transcript of Tina Fey on Saturday Night Live trashtalking the Hefner girlfriends. The pyschopathology of Hugh Hefner has gone mainstream.

No comments: